YRITWC Training Efforts

Rural Alaskans learn to install and manage alternative energy systems

by Maria Downey KTUU
Thursday, December 10, 2009

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- More rural communities are seeking alternative energy options, so more training is underway to learn how to use the new technology.

Students from several towns and villages are now taking a two-day class at Susitna Energy Systems in Anchorage.

They're learning how to install and manage alternative energy systems such as wind and solar. They'll then go back to their communities to explain the viable options and be prepared to do the hands-on work that would follow.

More rural communities are seeking cheaper and cleaner options to cut down on the use of expensive fuel.

"It's important because being in a bush community it costs a lot of money for everything, especially electricity," said Chevak resident Shawna Noratak.

"I think it's very important because people are unaware that we have other resources such as wind turbines," Noratak said.

The class has been developed through the efforts of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council, the Denali Training Fund and Susitna Energy and lasts through Friday.

Contact Maria Downey at mdowney@ktuu.com


Dept. of Labor Training WIN WIN

Students from local villages team-up with Interior Region Housing Authority and the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council to deploy solar photo voltaic technology in Alatna. Homeowners to benefit directly from renewable energy technology and lower electric bills.

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Read more about the project here:

New ALT Housing Sprouting

Anaktuvuk Pass (AKP) is a pocket of beauty set in the far north-central region of the Yukon River Watershed. The Inupiat community of 350 in the central Brooks Range is about as remote as you can get in Alaska.

But living there is not easy. Residents endure some of the coldest winter temperatures in Alaska. The region is treeless therefore biomass energy resources are scarce. With no road or large river access, all petroleum based fuels must be flown in by plane. At $8.00/ gallon for stove oil and $10.00/gallon for gasoline, the cost of living in AKP is one of the most expensive in the Nation.

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As in all of the villages in the Watershed, the '70s-era wood-frame houses are poorly suited to life where everyone expects to see temperatures that drop below zero regularly.

The Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council (YRITWC), with funding from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA), has teamed-up with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC), DWScientific and the Tagiugmiullu Nunamiullu Housing Authority (TNHA) to help develop a more energy efficient, culturally and environmentally appropriate housing alternative for residents in AKP.

That means building a high-tech thermal envel h MaxGuard walls (think of your truck's bedliner). Add about 7 inches of soy spray-foam insulation, and set the Mound up earth on two or three sides. Finally, cover the roof with sod. It means orienting each house to capture the sun's heat and deflect snow drifts. It means creating "cool rooms" outside the living areas for butchering and drying game and providing natural refrigeration.

It also means supporting the energy needs of the home through the use of Solar Panels and a Wind Powered Generator. The YRITWC Energy Department staff worked this past summer and into the fall field season to construct and commission a 1000Watt Photo Voltaic Array on the south facing wall of the new home and a 700Watt Ampair Wind Generator behind the home. The renewable energy systems are 'grid-tied' which means, when active, the energy produced will support the home needs. It will also put energy back into the village power grid when energy produced exceeds the immediate needs of the home.

The YRITWC Energy Department has high hopes for the project. Data recorded throughout the two year experimental phase will show how viable these systems are in the arctic. Given the cost of energy in AKP, the energy produced will also be a direct financial benefit to the new homeowner.

Additional Links to checkout:

YRITWC Photo Set:


First Alaskans Magazine Article:

CCHRC Website Sustainable Dwellings: